Arcing can produce nasty broadband radio interference

On this trip to Québec, indoor listening has been more productive than listening from our balcony.

I mentioned in a previous post that, this year, QRM levels here at the condo in Québec are higher on our balcony than they are inside the building.

I think I found the source.

A couple weeks ago, on my morning walk, I passed underneath some high voltage power lines about 1 km from the condo. I noticed the sound of arcing coming from a pole nearby. No doubt, something metal–a staple, a cable, a pin, etc.–is the culprit.

I pulled out my smart phone and made this short video. If you turn up the volume, you might hear the noise especially at the end of the clip.:

I took a portable radio back to the site later and heard the same broadband noise I heard from the condo.

Although we only rent this condo a couple months a year, I’ll try to report the noise to the Hydro Québec. I know that our utility company in the States must follow up with requests like this and do their best to eliminate unintentional sources of RFI. These issues can also be an indication of something in the system failing, so power companies can actually be quite grateful for the feedback.

If you have persistent broadband noise at home, check out some of the trouble shooting tutorials at K3RFI’s website for a little guidance.

Despite all of this noise, I’m pleased I can still receive a few of my favorite shortwave stations. And, of course, escape to the KiwiSDR network and hit the field from time to time!

No worries, though, I’ll be back at my home station soon and can once again enjoy a relatively RFI-free radio space!

Post readers: Have you ever been plagued with power line noise? What did you do about it? Any tips? Please comment!

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3 thoughts on “Arcing can produce nasty broadband radio interference

  1. Mark

    I had complained to our local power company here in Ireland ( ESB ) several months ago about crazy RFI between 2 poles and they did not acknowledge my complaint, not as much as a phone call or email.

    We had a Storm recently which broke a branch and snapped the offending pole , 🙂 oh to say I was delighted was an understatement, talk about luck ? Anyway by the end of the day a new pole and new transformer was up and new wires from pole to the farm house all modern and insulated.

    Now I’m enjoying blissful quietness apart from some thunderstorm activity on the continent causing the normal atmospheric noise but the tearing and screeching noise is gone.

    Listen on my Kiwi Sdr here.

    That was a real stroke of luck but it’s not all good news unfortunately as only in the last week or two I am noticing a new source of horrid QRM mainly after dark until about 2 am which leads me to believe a neighbour could have installed a new LED floodlight which can cause serious noise and it is crazy noise which is particularly bad from 120-60 meters.

    The farm house is about 100 meters away which is my closest neighbour on one side but the Neighbour on the other side is about 50 meters away and as I discovered when driving around in the car with the AM radio on when looking for the bad electric pole was that LED flood lights can cause horrid noise for quite a distance and if it is a LED floodlight I might not be able to do anything about it but the search continues.

    Even though I live in the country there doesn’t seem to be a place these days that can escape noise unless you live miles form any house or electric pole, when one source is eliminated another pops up.

  2. Tom Reitzel

    Unfortunately, this situation is quite common with utilities. Although an unpleasant thought, many illegal devices are being brought into this country through the illegal invasion of the USA (I know for a fact … just ask my neighbor about his TV) and by ignorant customers purchasing illegal products on-line through venues such as Amazon and Alibaba. These unregulated and noisy devices are causing many problems in addition to flaws with the power utilities.

  3. Jerry Decker

    Back in the 80’s, I lived next door to an office building that had a neon sign that was arcing against the stucco face of the building. Stucco is usually applied with a metal chicken wire type material to keep it in place when applied. It took me quite awhile to locate this problem and I had been fighting it for quite some time. You could see where it was arc’d as much as an arc welder against the building and left quite a bit of scorching to the stucco. Once I pointed this out to the building owner, they turned off the neon light till they were able to fix the problem with the light….


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